For the second time since taking office, President Joe Biden has authorized airstrikes against militia groups linked to Iran. The President said Sunday's strikes were in defense of U.S. troops who have repeatedly been targeted by militia drones in recent months.
In a statement Monday morning, Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a fierce critic of Iran, offered lukewarm support for President's action, saying that it was "overdue" and that "Iran's persistent attacks on American personnel through its proxies cannot be tolerated."
At a news conference in Rome, Italy Monday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the airstrikes a "necessary, appropriate, deliberate action," carried out by F-15 and F-16 fighter jets.
"Specifically, they targeted operational weapons storage facilities at two locations in Syria, one location in Iraq,both very close to the border between the countries,” said Secretary Blinken.
The militia groups have vowed revenge, and Iraq, a strong ally of the U.S., condemned the attack as a breach of its sovereignty.
President Biden is also getting some blowback at home, from some Democrats who feel the President is coming close to overstepping his authority as Commander-in-Chief and that military strikes need the approval of Congress. The administration said the airstrikes are not part of campaign to escalate hostilities, but just the opposite - defensive in nature and intended to deescalate.
"We have been very clear - the President has been very clear throughout - that we will act to protect U.S. personnel.” said Blinken.
In his statement, Senator Inhofe commended Biden for the action, but said, on the whole, his policy toward Iran is inconsistent, noting that this comes as the administration is in talks to try and revive the Iran nuclear deal, which Inhofe said is a huge mistake and sends the wrong message.
“We need a more focused and clear approach on Iran from President Biden," said Inhofe in the statement, "not one that occasionally responds to its threats, but too often seeks to appease it."
Administration officials said this was not appeasement, this was a message to prevent further attacks on U.S. soldiers.
"And I hope very much that it is received by those who are intended to receive it," Secretary Blinken added.